The Genes in Your Coffee (and Cancer-Protective Compounds)

Quick: what do tea, chocolate and coffee all have in common? There’s actually a lot they share – including many cancer-protective compounds – but for all who answered caffeine, that’s the big one.CoffeeBeansCup_dreamstime_13158097_blog

Now a research team has sequenced a draft of the genome of the coffee plant, finding that the caffeine compound has probably evolved independently of tea or chocolate. The researchers sequenced the plant Coffea canephora, which reportedly accounts for almost a third of the world’s coffee production.

The study was published on Friday in Science.

In all, the scientists identified about 25,000 protein-producing genes in the plant. (Humans have approximately 21,000 genes.) When they compared the coffee genome to the DNA of tea and chocolate they found coffee’s caffeine enzymes are more closely related to other genes within the coffee plant than to caffeine enzymes in tea and chocolate.

Compared to the grape and tomato, the coffee plant contains larger families of genes that relate to the production of flavonoid and other compounds, which contribute to the smell of coffee and are studied for their health benefits. Continue reading


Resistant Starch May Reduce Red-Meat Colorectal Cancer Risk

Eating high amounts of red meat increase risk of colorectal cancer while fiber-filled food reduces the risk, AICR research shows. Now comes a study that offers one possible explanation for both links, finding that diets high in red meat and a type of non-digestable fiber have opposite effects on a group of genetic molecules.Chuckwagon Chili Con Carne

The study was published in Cancer Prevention Research.

Study researchers focused on a type of fiber called resistant starch. Our bodies don’t digest resistant starch in the small intestine. Then in the gut, bacteria convert resistant starch into the compound butyrate. In lab studies, this compound protects against colon cancer.

For the study, 23 participants, ages 50 to 75, switched between two types of diets. In one diet each person was given 300 grams — about 10 ounces — of raw lean red meat a day. That’s about the equivalent of a cooked 8 ounce burger. The other diet had the same red-meat content plus a butyrate resistant starch formulation. Each person was on one diet for four weeks then after a four-week washout period, switched to the second diet for four weeks. Continue reading


The Science of Common Sense: More Evidence that AICR Recommendations Save Lives

Last week, yet another independent scientific study added to the robust evidence that following AICR’s 10 Recommendations for Cancer Prevention is powerfully protective against a great many diseases and conditions, not simply cancer alone.

This latest study found that childhood cancer survivors who follow more of our Recommendations are less likely to develop metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors that raises the risk for heart disease and other health problems. We wrote about this new study in this week’s Cancer Research Update, our biweekly email newsletter on breaking cancer news.

Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 11.38.01 AMPrevious independent studies have shown that our Recommendations protect against breast cancer and prostate cancer, reduce risk for cancer death, help people live longer, and improve cancer survivors’ physical and mental health. This latest study is a welcome addition to the ever-growing evidence that our advice maximizes your chances for leading a long and healthy life.

But in a way, it just makes sense. Continue reading